Team Russia Mourns Loss of Star (Updated)
Monday December 22nd 2008, 8:01 am

With the World Junior Championship set to get underway later this week, Kingston’s Whig Standard talked to Rangers draft pick Evgeny Grachev and Columbus Blue Jackets’ prospect Nikita Filatov about what the loss of Ranger first round draft pick Alexei Cherepanov means Team Russia following a team practice in Kingston on Saturday.

“He would probably be the best player on this team,” Filatov told the Standard. “Everybody here understands who Alexei was.”

“I think there will be a difficult moment during the championship,” Columbus’ sixth-overall draft pick in 2008 added, suggesting the team could have a meeting to discuss Cherepanov prior to the tournament.

“We will try not to think about it, but I think we will play for him, too,” said Grachev. “It was a really big loss for us. He would have been one of the leaders of this team and helped us with goal scoring and defensive play.”

As for his team’s chances, Grachev added “We have a really good team. We’ve got pretty good offensive players, defensive players and goalies and hopefully we will fight for a gold.”

Team Russia got their 2-game pre-tournament exhibition schedule underway yesterday with a 4-1 defeat of Kazakhstan in Oshawa. They face Team USA in another exhibition game in Kingston on Tuesday before opening the tournament against Latvia on Thursday.

UPDATE: The Russian Hockey Federation has finally updated their web site with (very few) details on last night’s exhibition game against Kazakhstan. Grachev picked up the third goal for the Russians in the 17th minute of the second period as they took a 3-0 lead after a scoreless first. Nikita Klukin, Sergei Ostapchuk, Grachev and Pavel Chernov scored for team Russia, while Alexander Kaznachaev scored for Kazakhstan. Andrei Yankov was in goal for Kazakhstan, while Sergei Gaiduchenko and Vadim Zhelobnyuk split the game in net for Russia.

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